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Vipers dominate in game one
by Don Klepp | Added 2010-03-19
Few would have predicted a 6-0 victory for the Vipers over the Penticton Vees in game one of the Interior Division final series on Friday in Vernon.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened in a contest that showed the Vipers at their best and the Vees looking toothless. All the numbers support the score line. The shots were 47-19. The scoring chances were 25-6. The hits were 34-10. Those numbers add up to a dominating performance by the defending national champions.
So, what went wrong for the high scoring Vees? Basically, they did not seem ready to compete, as the Vipers won the overwhelming majority of the puck battles. Vee snipers Denver Manderson and Beau Bennett played most of the game on separate lines, in order to spread out the Vees scoring, but both were almost totally nullified. Each had only one scoring chance.
When the Vees broke out of their zone, and when they occasionally caused a turnover in the neutral zone, they looked smooth and lethal as they went toward the Viper zone, but rush after rush was snuffed out by the Viper defencemen and back checking forwards before the Vees could complete their patented cross-crease tap ins.
Meanwhile the Vipers drove hard to the net and caused frequent turnovers in the offensive zone. That pressure drew a Bo Dolan high sticking infraction at 1:18 of the first period, and the Vipers capitalized a minute later on Dan Nycholat’s hard low slap shot from the point.
Time after time in this game, the Viper point men were able to get shots through to the net, but Sean Bonar played well in the Vee net and it looked like the Vees would escape the first period only a goal down.
Jonathan Milhouse dashed that hope with a highlight reel goal with 2.5 seconds remaining in the period. After a fine Graeme Gordon pad save, Kevin Kraus collected the rebound. The Vee left defenceman had pinched, so Milhouse was free on the right wing for Braden Pimm’s perfect stretch pass. Milhouse flew in alone and picked the top corner with a wrist shot.
Dan Nycholat and Garrett Noonan added to the 2-0 lead with lasers in the second period. At 10:32, Nycholat’s one-timer from the right faceoff circle came after Milhouse and Bryce Kakoske had taken turns jarring Vees off the puck.
Noonan’s goal was a thing of beauty. After accepting a pass at the point from Cory Kane, Noonan faked two defenders before ripping a shot to the top of the net over Bonar’s left shoulder.
In the third period, the Vipers kept on the gas, generating another 10 scoring chances. Continuous pressure led Derek Johnson to cross check David Robinson, but before the Vees could touch the puck, Kellen Jones buried a rebound off a point shot.
Rob Short capped the Vees’ frustrating evening with a short handed goal at 19:01, following another scintillating pad save by Graeme Gordon. David Robinson sent Short on a breakaway and the 20-year old Vernon product beat Bonar high glove side.
• The Vees had not previously been shut out in 70 games this year. They had been held to one goal on three occasions.
• Graeme Gordon’s third successive shutout stretches his shutout streak to 188 minutes, during which he has stopped 70 shots. He earned third star for his steady performance. Second star was Jonathan Milhouse. First star was defenceman Dan Nycholat.
• With seven minutes remaining, giant Vee Luke Curadi jumped Braden Pimm and the two were assessed fighting majors. Curadi did not receive an instigator penalty.
• Illustrating the Viper depth, 15 different Vipers figured in their six goals. Nycholat, Milhouse, and Kevin Kraus were the only three to register two points.
• Cory Kane did not play in the third period, which forced Mark Ferner to juggle his lines. Jonathan Milhouse supplied most of the minutes in Kane’s absence.
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